By: Dana Dubbers and Laura Hornberger
Amsterdam counts as one oft he safest cities, although it’s the unsafest city in the Netherlands, according to mainstream media. How come there’s so many different opinions? Shop owners in the city centre explain.
Cyclists are queuing up behind the litter service that collects the rubbish from Rembrandtplein. The tables in front of the bars are empty. People just cross the square in order to get to another place. Shop owners are cleaning the pedestrian ways from yesterday night. It smells like chlorine. There are empty cans and broken bottles, cups and dark stains of vomit on the floor. Obviously Rembrandtsquare is not always that quiet. You can tell that people walked through those streets after partying here the night before. How safe is this place at the centre during the night?
According to the Amsterdam council, the safety in Grachtengordel-Zuid, where Rembrandtplein is located, decreased since August 2016.
“I didn’t notice that it’s more dangerous than to years ago. At night it’s 100% safe here”, says Gille Maroun, who has been working at Frittenbudd De Belg at Rembrandtplein for two years. The little fries stand is opened until four o’clock on weekend nights. “Friday and Saturday can get very busy here, but I have never witnessed an incident on the square. Most fights happen in clubs”, says the 32-year-old. When asked why the square seems so safe to him, he mentions that the police are very present. “But I also think it’s because of the dutch mentality. People here just don’t tend to get into fights. It’s more the tourists”.
Wendy Balvert owns a small Kiosk just down the road from Rembrandtsquare since 35 years. Since they are open all night every day, it’s the place for drunk people to get food on the way back home from the club. The 55-year-old has never felt unsafe in her working spot, not for one minute. At night they are often working in pairs in order to serve the customers as fast as possible. “People tend to start fights if they have to wait for a too long time. Bumping into each other is enough to upset them”, she says. But she wouldn’t work here if she would feel unsafe.
She thinks it’s safer to stay at the crowded places in the city centre where people can intervene if they see somebody gets molested. “It’s safer to stay in the crowd in the centre than to walk through the small side roads on your own where there’s no one to help you”, she adds.